It seems just about everyone wants a pearly white smile these days -- and some will try just about any trend to get them, including brushing with activated charcoal.

It can come in the form of a powder or a paste and the claim is that brushing your teeth with it will make them white.

The theory is that the charcoal binds to everything from stains, to tartar, removing them when you brush.

In some cases it can make your teeth whiter, temporarily, but since the activated charcoal is a binding agent, it can also remove the healthy bacteria in your mouth that keeps you from getting cavities and helps with digestion.

If you should swallow some, it may bind to some medications you're taking, removing them from your system. Remember, doctors use activated charcoal to pump your stomach for medication overdoses.

Dr. Darren Riopelle, a dentist with Smile Grand Haven, says there is a concern about damaging tooth enamel and to remember the tooth whitening market is a billion dollar industry. If it was safe and effective, the big manufacturers of whitening products would be using it.

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